Table of Contents
- 1 Why Does My Dog Lick My Feet ?
- 2 Reasons Your Dog May Lick Your Feet
- 2.1 Dogs Lick Feet as a Way to Get Information
- 2.2 Dogs Lick Feet as a Way to Deal with Boredom and Stress
- 2.3 Licking Your Feet is a Way to Show Submission and How They Feel
- 2.4 Your Dog Licking Your Feet Could be Attention-Seeking Behavior
- 2.5 Your Dog Would Lick Your Feet Because They Taste Good
- 2.6 Canines Show Their Affection By Licking
- 2.7 When Your Dog is Hungry, Thirsty or In Need of Something In Particular, They May Lick Your Feet
- 2.8 For Some Dogs, Licking Their Owners’ Feet is Simply Obsessive
- 3 Is This Behavior a Cause for Worry?
- 4 How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Feet
- 4.1 Don’t scold or yell at your pet
- 4.2 Move away from him or her
- 4.3 Consider using products with a citrus scent
- 4.4 You could consider changing your skincare products
- 4.5 Dog-appeasing pheromones may be useful
- 4.6 Keep your dog physically and mentally occupied
- 4.7 Try medication as a last resort
- 4.8 Training
- 5 Understand The Dog Licking Behavior And Be Consistent
Almost every pet owner has wondered, “ Why does my dog lick my feet ? ” Licking is a behavior that comes naturally to dogs and they can do this for any reason. Sometimes these reasons are completely harmless. In one or two cases, however, it may be something you would need to pay close attention to.
So, why do dogs lick the feet of their owners? Does it signify something to be worried about and what can be done if it is?
Why Does My Dog Lick My Feet ?
Reasons Your Dog May Lick Your Feet
Dogs Lick Feet as a Way to Get Information
One popular reason dogs lick the feet of humans is to gather and process information on the person whose feet are being licked. Dogs have a ton of receptors to sense smell using their mouths as well as noses. The sweat from our human bodies lets them learn all they need to know about us. Therefore, your pet licking your feet could be a way for him or her to get to know more about you.
If you have been to a place where the scent is unfamiliar to your dog, he or she would sniff and lick you to try to determine where you’ve been. It could be a way of them trying to figure out whom or what the scent is for or from. In addition, your dog can sense what mood you are in just by licking your feet.
Dogs Lick Feet as a Way to Deal with Boredom and Stress
If your dog licks your feet, it could be as a result of them being bored. According to certain scientific researches, endorphin, the hormone of pleasure, is released in your dog as he or she licks your feet. The release of this hormone subsequently soothes your pet, causing them to become less stressed, more comfortable and calmer.
Where the case of your dog licking your feet is caused by boredom or stress, simply walking away and being out of his or her reach would easily stop the activity. Doing this works far more effectively than punishment. With time, your pet would come to know that licking your feet is unwanted behavior.
Licking Your Feet is a Way to Show Submission and How They Feel
The behavior of canines licking the feet of their pet parents is related to the bond between humans and dogs. Another reason your dog would lick your feet is to show how they feel about you. It is also a way to let you know they have accepted your position as their master and are happy with the way things are. It is a sign of loyalty and submission to your authority.
Your Dog Licking Your Feet Could be Attention-Seeking Behavior
In addition to barking and wagging of the tail, another way of your pet getting your attention is to lick your feet. A dog that is looking for attention would lick your feet as a last resort when all other signals have been given off.
Many well-trained dogs have been taught that generally, barking for attention is not always a welcome behavior. Therefore, they may lick your feet as a quieter and more subtle way to try to get you to notice them.
Your Dog Would Lick Your Feet Because They Taste Good
As unusual as it sounds, you may experience your pet licking your feet simply because he or she likes the taste. That’s definitely a weird phenomenon; however, it is a fact. When we sweat on our feet, our pets may be drawn to the taste of the combination of salt and moisture. This probably seems icky but it is true – your pet may simply just enjoy the taste of the salt from your sweat.
It could also be that food particles are stuck on your feet and your pet is trying to lick them off.
Canines Show Their Affection By Licking
Dogs are usually known for how loving, affectionate and loyal they are. A dog would lick the mouth of a fellow dog as a sign of respect and submission. Dog mothers provide care and show love to their puppies by licking them. Puppies are also known to lick their mothers when they are hungry, as a way to ask for food. One way a dog would communicate companionship to another is by licking.
In the same vein, your pet may show his or her love for you by licking your feet. Since they can’t speak in a language humans understand, they express their emotions in various ways. If you experience your dog licking your feet, he or she may be trying to let you know how much they care about you.
When Your Dog is Hungry, Thirsty or In Need of Something In Particular, They May Lick Your Feet
In certain situations, it could be that your dog is licking your feet to get your attention for something in particular. Maybe he or she is trying to tell you they are hungry or thirsty. Maybe they would like to play and need you to indulge them. The licking behavior could simply be brought on by a need for a particular thing.
For Some Dogs, Licking Their Owners’ Feet is Simply Obsessive
Many pet parents find this irritating but another reason a dog usually licks people’s feet is simply because they enjoy doing so. It is not because they are seeking your attention or that they want to show you love. It is merely an obsessive behavior to them. They do it just because.
Is This Behavior a Cause for Worry?
Where your dog licks your feet once in a while, it shouldn’t be a reason to worry. It could be a behavior that may even endear your pet to you and strengthen the bond you both have. As long as your feet are clean and free of anything that may be poisonous for your dog, he or she should be fine.
However, it is something that needs to be curbed if the act becomes too habitual or perhaps, you applied an ointment that could be harmful to your pet if ingested. It could also be that you have an injury and letting your dog lick your feet at that time should certainly not be encouraged.
In addition, a few dog owners don’t enjoy the feeling of their feet being licked – either because they are ticklish or they just hate the wetness of saliva on their feet. It could also be quite embarrassing when your dog extends the gesture to your guests who may feel uncomfortable.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Feet
There are a few ways to discourage the behavior if it is unwanted by you or if it may be detrimental to your dog.
Don’t scold or yell at your pet
If your pet always licks your feet, ensure you don’t raise your voice at him or her. This is very important. Instead, employ more humane techniques that work even more efficiently to redirect or stop the practice. Also avoid punishment as a technique to correct negative behavior.
Move away from him or her
One way of stopping your dog from licking your feet, especially if the act has been brought on by a need for attention, is to leave the area where he or she is. If your feet are out of reach, it is impossible that they would get licked by your dog.
Also, ignoring your pet and deliberately moving away from them each time they start to lick your feet would reinforce the notion that it is unwanted behavior.
Consider using products with a citrus scent
A general belief is that dogs find the smell and taste of citrus repulsive. This doesn’t apply to all dogs, though. However, it is worth a try. Using a shower gel, applying a lotion or perfume with a citrus scent could very possibly stop your pet from licking your feet. Rubbing your skin with the rind of any citrus fruit may also do the trick.
You could consider changing your skincare products
One reason your dog may be drawn to licking your feet could be that he or she enjoys the taste of your skincare product. If this is the case, consider switching your lotions and soaps to something unscented. This tip could very well be the solution to the issue.
Dog-appeasing pheromones may be useful
Dog-appeasing pheromones, also known as DAP, should be among the list of solutions to consider when working to curb the behavior of dogs licking feet. It is a widely-known and highly effective measure of dealing with the obsessive behavior that comes with separation anxiety.
The artificially created chemicals imitate the actual pheromones a nursing mother would release, which are able to soothe a fearful or anxious dog.
Keep your dog physically and mentally occupied
If your dog is physically active, for instance, with sports, they would use up a lot of energy. In addition to physical activity, getting your dog to engage in mental games would also keep him or her distracted enough to not be interested in licking your feet.
Investing in a range of chew toys is one great and effective way to keep your pet occupied mentally. One in particular to consider is the kind that dispenses treats. They not only help to hold their attention for long, they also provide mental stimulation and challenge. This is definitely something you should consider.
Try medication as a last resort
If the issue of licking your feet is continuous and brought on by separation anxiety, it may help to pay a visit to your vet. Putting your dog on medication may end up being one final solution
There are two likely options that your vet would recommend.
Fluoxetine is a popular medication which is usually prescribed for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorders in dogs. It works effectively to stop behaviors such as licking and is known to have only a few side effects.
Another popular medication vets usually prescribe for dogs that experience severe anxiety and compulsive disorders is Clomipramine. If the constant licking has been brought on by stress, this may be an effective recommendation which would be given by your vet.
There are various types of trainings you could embark on to help your dog end this habit. Here are a few of them:
Substitute the licking act with something else
Another highly effective way of stopping any obsessive behavior in your dog, such as licking your foot, is to redirect and reinforce an alternative, incompatible activity. This means that if your dog licks your feet, an alternative but incompatible act would be one that still occupies his or her mouth. However, it would be something less unwelcome.
A good example of how you can substitute licking with an incompatible activity is with a game of fetch. Other excellent examples are dog-walking and tug-of-war games. Activities such as these would divert your dog’s attention from your feet and keep them focused on something more positive. If the licking has been brought on by anxiety, engaging in things that would make your dog less stressed is sure to help them quit the negative behavior.
Reward Good Behavior
As mentioned previously, it is best to refrain from scolding your pet when he or she licks your feet. This is actually a general rule when it comes to dog training – never yell at your pet when they engage in unwanted behavior.
Instead, it is better to divert your pet’s attention to a more welcome activity. For instance, as soon as he or she starts to lick your feet, rather than shout, redirect their focus to something else. Afterwards, reward them by immediately offering delicious treats and giving positive reinforcement.
Consistently following this technique would teach your pet what is and isn’t encouraged.
Teach your dog to lick only when commanded
If you do this, you would be letting your dog know that licking is only acceptable when you want it.
- Begin by selecting a word to trigger the licking. ‘Lick’ is a perfect and obvious example. ‘Kiss’ works fine too.
- Apply peanut butter or any food that can be licked on your hand and say your chosen command word.
- Come up with a command to stop the act, such as ‘No kiss’, ‘No lick’ or ‘Stop’. If your dog stops, even for a few seconds, give a reward. If he or she doesn’t stop, say the command again and withdraw your hand.
- Each time your dog licks and stops on your command, ensure you praise them generously. This helps them associate your commands with good behavior.
Understand The Dog Licking Behavior And Be Consistent
If you own a pet that is fond of licking your feet, it doesn’t always mean something that should get you worried. It could be their way of letting you know how they feel about you or to simply get your attention momentarily.
However, if it becomes a more habitual or obsessive behavior, it may be time for you to seriously look into stopping it. Perhaps, after a while you become irritated by it or maybe you’re even ticklish.
Stopping the behavior requires some consistency and a little bit of patience. Where other options aren’t successful, a visit to your vet could help. They would let you know of other options available, including medication to calm your dog if the behavior has been brought on by stress and anxiety.